HOUSTON -- Albert Pujols' three-run homer in the ninth inning off Houston closer Brad Lidge kept the champagne on ice and sent the National League Championship Series back to St. Louis for Game 6.
The Astros were one out away from clinching their first World Series berth, but Lidge gave up a single to David Eckstein and walked Jim Edmonds, setting the stage for Pujols.
Houston rallied from a 2-1 deficit when Lance Berkman hit a three-run homer in the seventh for a 4-2 lead.
A look at key statistics through Game 5 of the NLCS.
|ERA||3.14||After holding the Cardinals to five runs in the last three games, Astros pitchers allowed five runs in Game 5|
|BA||.269||Houston's offense hasn't put up more than four runs in a game in this series|
|BA w/ RISP||.085||Berkman's three-run homer was the big blast of the night for Houston|
|Runs||13||The Astros squeezed in just two runs and haven't scored more than four in a game in the series|
|Errors||3||Two errors in Game 5, but no damage done|
|Lance Berkman||2-for-3, three-run homer in Game 5 (.353 in series)||Berkman's blast gave the Astros a 4-2 lead in the seventh. He is the one man Cardinals manager Tony La Russa does not want to beat his team|
|Mike Lamb||0-4, strikeout||Lamb couldn't get the job done with runners on base|
Behind the numbers
Cardinals batters were batting just .167 against Lidge coming into Game 5. After giving up the three-run homer to Pujols, Lidge's ERA jumped from 2.25 to 7.20.
Considering the last two games had been decided by one run, it looked like Berkman's homer would be enough to send Houston to its first Fall Classic.
Manager Phil Garner took Craig Biggio out in the top of the eighth for defense, replacing him with Eric Bruntlett. Garner likely expected Lidge to close the game out in the ninth, but when Lidge didn't, the Astros were minus Biggio's bat when his turn came up in the bottom of the inning. Instead, Jose Vizcaino batted for Bruntlett.
"We were feeling pretty good, but you have to play every out. We failed to play every out tonight." -- Garner
Stephen A. Norris is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.